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Comment Re:Why not have more public restrooms? (Score 1) 128 128

This is the real issue in these situations. There really isn't a good place to pee in a lot of places. People often as not rely on restrooms provided by businesses and they only let you go in there if you are a customer. So if you're not... or they're closed because it is late... then where are you going to pee?

The issue with public restrooms is that that is realestate that is valudable and you have to police and maintain them to keep people from selling drugs for blow jobs in them or rubbing shit into the ceiling.

The Solution there is to have them be public but make their maintenance the responsibility of locals rather than some city workers that will be under staffed, unmotivated, and unaccountable when they don't do their jobs. Local businesses will want those facilities to look good and be good and so they'll task someone to deal with it.

Regardless, anyone that thinks they're stopping people from peeing by putting funny paint on the walls is an idiot.

1. You can still pee on the ground.

2. Stand back and pee at an angle and you can pee on the wall.

3. Women are responsible for this far more than you'd realize and they pop a squat and pee.

So... yeah. You're not stopping anything with your paint. Put in more public bathrooms or get used to the smell of urine.

Maintenance doesn't have to be a problem for public bathrooms. Unless it is in a remote area, a 1st-world public bathroom requires water and sewer connections. Make the whole thing out of plastics / stainless / tile and put in sloping floors and a floor drain. Put some retractable rotating water jets in the ceiling, and have them go off at 3AM every day and with an occupancy sensor. I'm thinking like a soot blower (PDF) kind of device, but with water. To reduce complexity you could power the rotation with a small water turbine or just make the nozzles with 360 degree coverage. Most cities have very impressive water pressure in the early AM hours, so a pump shouldn't be required.

Japanese public bathrooms sometimes don't have toilet paper or paper hand towels. People are in the habit of carrying their own. It is better to have a bathroom and bring your own paper than to have no bathrooms at all.

A bathroom built like this wouldn't need regular cleaning or restocking. You could put them on the sidewalk in high-traffic areas to avoid having to purchase land. It's a public good, and exactly the sort of thing governments should provide.

Comment Re:This is logical next step (Score 1) 123 123

People in USA and Europe with excellent grid connections are not aware of it. But in places like India with unreliable grid, people have been using backup electricity storage for quite some time. Typically truck lead-acid batteries are used to store enough energy to power a couple of ceiling fans, a few lamps and the TV, never forget the TV, for a few hours. They put up with power outages using these contraptions.

They use inverters to convert the DC to some square wave and approximate it to A/C using electronic gimmicks. Not a pure sine wave A/C, but close enough to run fans and the lamps. Energy conversion efficiency is not bad, the inverters do hot heat up too much. But they play havoc with the motors. So the Japanese A/C makers have been selling ruggadized air conditioners that can run on the inverter electricity.

The logical next step is to create A/C to run purely on DC. Probably it would use AC to DC converters to use grid electricity. Again this DC would be poor in quality compared to battery DC. So this Aircon also would need to be ruggadized.

All these calculations about when residential solar will become viable compared to coal or natural gas are completely different between G8 and rest of the world. Places like India will pay well over the current grid price for steady electricity supply. Not all of them. But the affluent population of India is about the size of Japan, some 120 million people. They have been making do with truck-battery-inverter contraptions, small gasoline generator sets etc. They would probably form the wave of early adopters who pay for the early fixed costs of solar panel factories.

When I visited North Korea, individual solar panels were everywhere, in cities and in the countryside, charging lead-acid batteries for lighting at night. Being on China's doorstep, it may be cheaper to do this than to build out the grid. Widespread availability of food refrigeration would help poor countries tremendously.

Comment Re:Already been done in China for a while (Score 1) 123 123

I don't know about building codes, but the UL is a private organization. There's no legal need, in general, for anything to be UL-certified in the US.

I have had fire marshals come down hard on my company for electrical equipment that didn't have the sticker. I've experienced it in 2 different states, at 2 different companies. And I have heard of other companies having similar problems. If it doesn't have the sticker than it falls outside of common exclusions for inspections. We had to have electricians come in and verify that the equipment was safe by checking every wire to code and generally accepted practices.

Maybe for a residential installation it would be fine. Or maybe it wouldn't be. You're basically betting that the home inspector wouldn't see a problem with it. Home inspectors are generally assholes so that's not a gamble I want to take.

Comment Re:Already been done in China for a while (Score 1) 123 123

I've been saying for a few years that if you just had a few solar panels in your back yard, and didn't want to go through the expense of all the inverter stuff, you could just use it to charge a small battery and power a DC air conditioner. That's because you generally want air conditioning at the same time that you have the most solar power. At the time, the only DC air conditioners available were for marine use, and so they were expensive. However, in the last year and a half I noticed a lot of DC air conditioners on the marker on AliExpress (in China). Some of them even come as a kit including solar panels. The difference here is that presumably the Sharp ones are UL and/or CSA certified, so you could use them in North America.

Honestly, some of the stuff on AliExpress is impressive for how cheap it is. You can buy 500W grid-tie inverters for a solar array for the $200 range. Unfortunately they only have a CE rating, so they're not OK for North America yet. In comparison you can spend 3 to 4 times that much here.

It's really eye opening how much middlemen mark up chinese goods. My wife has ordered high-end clothing and a fabric baby carrier from Aliexpress. Sometimes the quality is typical of cheaply made goods, but in many cases we can't tell if it is an excellent knockoff or a case of "Prada ordered 10,000 units, let's make 12,000 and sell the extras ourselves". The markup on mainstream high-end goods is extreme. Independent entrepreneurs have taken advantages of this in some sectors, but not others. Only the threat of legal action is holding back the tide in some cases.

That said, I used an NEC relay in my last project, as opposed to the equivalent chinese model. Dresses and purses might have the ability to catastrophically fail, but when they do, my apartment doesn't burn down.

Comment Probably not useful (Score 5, Informative) 87 87

If the simulations turn out to be correct, the new alloy may be useful in parts like jet engines, and the door will be opened to using similar simulations to search for substances with even higher melting points or with other exotic properties.

No, it won't. Materials for jet engines must be reasonably affordable, machinable or otherwise workable, and available in large quantities. I have about 4600 lbs [2086kg] of 422 stainless going through my shop right now for a single row of blades for one machine. They're big blades, but even for small blades, hundreds of pounds of material is common. An alloy of hafnium, nitrogen and carbon isn't going to be cheap enough for that to ever be feasible. It is probably a brittle material as well. Brittle materials and a high vibration environment don't mix.

Maybe you could apply it as a coating, but I'm not sure how that would be possible. Almost all coatings of this type require you to liquify or vaporize the coating material. Plus, you run into the same problem as before- a thin coating won't protect the base metal, and a thick one would be prohibitively expensive.

Comment Re:SD Card? (Score 2) 148 148

Cost of 160GB of SD card NAND: $48 Cost of 48GB of same NAND soldered to the board: $50 They don't want you storing videos, pictures, music, and audio books on SD card; they want you to pay over 3x as much for that same SD card.

Compare the IOPS between an SD card and on-board NAND. Not the same thing.

Do you see a need for high IOPS for storing or viewing videos, pictures, music, or audiobooks? Because I don't. Even for loading apps that's a tough sell. I have a microSD card on a Windows 8 tablet and the only noticeable affect is that read/write speed is slower than the on-device storage. And that's because they used a cheap SD card controller- the card itself is more than capable. It isn't an issue with media consumption devices like phones and tablets.

Comment Re:Hopefully the actual plan defines the terms (Score 1) 565 565

$60 Billion for 500 million panels = $120 per panel. Of course, panel size is not specified (not a needed detail when hawking votes), but the present incentives are more than that per panel if you are talking $1kw panels or larger. Is she proposing a reduction in incentives?

My first impression is that this is the standard politician trick of promising something that is already highly likely to occur or inevitable. Most successful politicians, regardless of political party, use these kind of promises all the time. Especially in areas where the measurement of progress can be boiled down to a single or a small number of numerical values.

Comment Re:More Republican corporate welfare (Score 1) 248 248

sure, and we didnt have the tech to send us to the moon in the 60s...but we did it

So what are you trying to say here? He3 is only useful in a fusion reactor and we don't have a working design. People have been working on one ever since they invented the H-bomb and come up short, we have enough He3 here on earth to experiment/test with. Maybe we should see if we're able to do something useful with it before we spend billions trying to build a moon mining operation?

I completely agree with you and it is sad to see this tired old argument every time there is a moon story. There are plenty of good reasons to go to the moon, He3 isn't one of them. There is no reason to even bring up the subject given the numerous other reasons to go to the moon.

Comment Re:First thing I thought of (Score 5, Interesting) 446 446

The first thing that came to mind when I heard of this site is "This is a prime target for a hacking/blackmail scheme." The only surprise here is that it didn't happen sooner.

As someone who has data in there (out of curiosity), it couldn't have happened to better people. The people that run AshleyMadison are worse than the lowest spammers. Not because they sanction marital cheating, but because they are exceedingly scammy in every aspect of the way they operate their business. They make Paypal and Stamps.com look like saints.

Comment Re:Hard to believe (Score 2) 116 116

I find that hard to believe. I have had 4 legal experiences in my time.

1) a divorce - (family law) 2) a labor dispute over a layoff - (labor law) 3) a private investment - (securities law) 4) A copyright filing - (intellectual property law)

In every case, there were some areas that could have been algorithmic, but in many dimensions on each one there were things that came about from advice from the attorney on how to position myself and under what laws I could make a case, which has a lot to do with language parsing and the definitions of the words used and their context. Unless this was paired with something like Watson which can determine meaning from context, I don't see this as being anything more than a paralegal replacement, but not a lawyer replacement.

Yes, but the vast majority of cases are fairly straightforward. Laws are nothing but a set of rules, and computers are great tools to track rules and figure out which apply. Precedents are set which further define what happens when the law falls short. Law (at least US Law) is chock full of "tests" which are fairly easy to apply. They come in the form of "If this AND this AND this, then $ruling". Unless you are in a precedent-setting case, which is rare, then I absolutely believe that a computer can be fed the results of a bunch of yes/no questions, asset values, and come up with the right answer with very high accuracy. If the two parties can agree on the answers to the yes/no questions and the asset valuations, want to reduce costs, and are not at each other's throats, then why not use a computer?

A computer doesn't have an interest in wasting time and accumulating billable hours like a lawyer does. No matter how much honesty and integrity the lawyer has, getting paid is always going to be on their mind.

Comment Re:as always.... (Score 0) 204 204

How would insurance save money? Another middle man to pay. The only justification for insurance is when you need to smooth out the bumps in your spending - an individual may not have $30,000 sitting around to replace their crashed car. NASA can almost always slip a schedule; self insurance makes a lot of sense for them.

f SpaceX had to pay the premiums for each launch separately, but NASA had a contract that didn't allow cost increases due to insurance premium increases, then insurance would be a great idea.

As it stands, NASA shoulders the costs for SpaceX's mistakes. The only reason that situation is allowed to stand is because it is common in government work. It shouldn't be.

Comment Re:Statism vs. Libertarianism again (Score 3, Interesting) 123 123

There's a world of difference between an adobe flash exploit and the availability of a gun that can mow down a large number of people in a matter of seconds.

There is not. Shutting down NYSE [slashdot.org], for example, cost billions of dollars. At $10 mln per life [wikipedia.org], that's hundreds of lives right there...

Are you making a serious argument in comparing people getting shot and the NYSE shutdown? This is the hill that you're going to make your stand on?

It's a very poor example but a valid point. A much better example would be fraud [identity theft], ransomware, spam, etc. With computers you can easily steal time from people on an unimaginable scale.

Suppose someone hacks me, and I get off relatively "easy". I may spend 1 hour of my time canceling a credit card, activating the new card when it comes, and changing all the passwords of all the accounts that the credit card number is associated with. That's probably on the very low end of what a hack can cost an individual.

The hacker doesn't stop there. They repeat their act 1,000,000 times. That's a fairly successful and prolific hacker, but not unheard of, espeicially if the attack vector is a business. At just an hour apiece per victim, 1 million victims is 114 total man-years spent cleaning up. Nobody died, but an entire lifetime has been stolen.

The Target hack(s) affected "up to 110 million people". If we take that figure at face value, and each victim spent only an hour dealing with it, that's 12,557 years or roughly 148 lifetimes. Even if I count injured people, I can't find a mass shooting that comes anywhere near 148 lifetimes.

Comment Re:Algorithm (Score 3, Interesting) 233 233

The ads that Google shows you are based on your search terms most of the time.

Except when it's not. Which in this case clearly indicates there's a profile that's made up of more than just search terms.

The search terms were identical for all profiles, male or female. The authors of the paper admit in the abstract that they don't know who is responsible for the different results, but since the only difference was the "gender" setting it is clear that at some point in the chain (Google, advertisers, recruitment companies) there is a rule that says "favour males", just like there is a rule that says "favour females" for tampon adverts.

Right, confirming that it's not just search terms. So we agree, there's a profile involved, not just search terms.

The difference between those two examples, and why one is a problem, is hopefully obvious.

It's really not obvious. Are you suggesting that advertisers shouldn't be allowed to target ads? Are you suggesting freedom to engage in advertising should be modified by rules? You're implying that. On what basis do you justify telling corporations how to spend their ad money?

Google generally shows ads that they think you want to see. They learn from feedback- which links you click and which you scroll by immediately. They aggregate that data, then slice it and dice it into different personas (or profiles). I am sure they have categories which all people fall into 2 broad categories, and they have a separate profile for every user. All their data mining and AI research result in a weird reflection of humanity. If that results in women not seeing certain ads, I can only conclude that that is because women generally don't want to see them, or prefer to see other types of ads instead. Perhaps the majority of women prefer to see ads for jobs with more schedule flexibility. That would be a reasonable conclusion since only women can carry fetuses to term, and doing so requires some amount of schedule flexibility. More than 50% of women have children, and determining who does and does not want children is probably not easy- even people with very strong opinions on the matter (like myself 10 years ago) do change their mind suddenly, for a variety of reasons which may defy profiling.

Comment Re: Fear (Score 2) 364 364

The DOW Industrials are at a P/E of 16.2, historical averages since the 1880's is 16.6, there's no huge bubble or crash coming unless it's an international contagion from Greece or China that halts world economic progress.

The DOW is not a good benchmark for investigating if there is a bubble or not. It is comprised of just 30 companies, mostly huge conglomerates and industry titans. There are also little to no "new" businesses on the list. The tech companies on the list are very mature, and include Apple, Intel, IBM, and Microsoft. As far as companies that are trading at a "fair" price, I would say the 30 companies in the DJIA are priced very fairly because of all the eyes on them.

If there is a bubble, it is almost surely not reflected in the DJIA. Let's say, for argument, that there is a bubble (you don't have to agree, just for the sake of argument). Where would it manifest? Technology companies founded in the last 10 years? Tech companies founded in the last 3 years? Those are the likely candidates in my opinion, but they are not represented in the DOW 30 AT ALL.

Maybe you think the next bubble will again be in banking? In that case, only Goldman Sacks, Visa, and Chase represent the banking industry on the DOW 30. I have the opinion that if there is a serious disaster brewing, those 3 companies can keep it from affecting their balance sheet until the last possible moment. They were fairly successful in doing so in 2009 so I have no doubt they could and would do it again.

My point is that if you are looking for a bubble, looking at the DJIA is a complete waste of time. P/E ratios may not be the best indicator either- in 2008/2009 the P/E ratios didn't make alarming moves until *after* everybody knew there was a big problem. You're relying on every other investor to tell you that things are OK (by assigning a fair Price), but every other investor may well be stupid. The best indication I think is what companies are paying when they buy other companies. Are they paying reasonable prices that will allow them to earn a profit on their investment? If they are buying a company to protect market share, is their investment at least as much as the potential losses if they hadn't bought the company? If the answer to either question is no, that's a big problem. It means they have so much money that they don't know how to manage it, or it means that they are basing their decisions on emotion, and not numbers. Either of those is a recipe for disaster.

Comment Uplift 900 is pretty good (Score 3, Informative) 340 340

I have the Uplift 900. My company was very generous with the desk budget, so I went all out and got an 80" wide top. The 80" width is big enough for all my work, but if I were buying it again, I would *not* buy the desk top from Uplift. The price is too high for the quality- I think it probably costs a fortune to ship a big heavy desk top. The digital memory keypad is well worth the money. The Uplift castor wheels are also worthwhile. The Uplift keyboard tray is solid, but nothing special. There are better keyboard trays out there, and I definitely recommend getting a keyboard tray. The cable management kit is overpriced and next to useless.

Keep in mind that at standing height, the desk does have a little bit of wobble, especially if you use the castor wheels. My monitor was unsafely wobbly and I had to use a wood clamp to clamp it to the desk for safety. Part of this is due to my monitor- for a 28" screen, the included stand has a small (too small) footprint and odd weight distribution. For most monitors this probably won't be a problem.

I tend to stand until after lunchtime, then sit the rest of the day, depending on how heavy a lunch I eat. My back problems from a car accident 2 years ago have nearly disappeared. Best feature of a standing desk is eating lunch- your lap isn't in the path of falling food objects. If there is a spill imminent, you can simply dodge out of the way. I haven't spilled lunch on my pants since I got the desk.

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